KALIDA — The expansion of Walnut Street in Kalida is expected to begin either this week, or next, weather depending. First discussed around April 2017, expanding the street’s width to 26 feet has not been without some controversy. The widening of the street could only occur on the northside, due to the presence of water lines and lighting infrastructure on the southside of the street. In order to install additional drainage at the same time the street is rebuilt (to save costs), the sidewalks along the street were always going to be removed. Where they are placed once reinstalled became a source of friction between the village and neighbors along the northside of the street.

Completing the work entirely within the street’s right-of-way would have resulted in the sidewalk placed just inches away from the curb. This was deemed unsafe by members of council who then sought an additional six-foot easement from the property owners along the northside in order to move the sidewalk four feet away from the new street. A 100% abatement on the curb assessment for the northside residents was offered as compensation, adding approximately $8,000 to the cost of the project.

For at least a year, if not longer, at least two property owners resisted signing the easement. Secondhand reports suggested that they were against the expansion generally, believing it would lead to an increase in speeding along “Kalida’s shortcut.” They also reportedly did not like the prospect of essentially giving up a significant portion of their property for a sidewalk.

This introduced a likelihood that the sidewalk along the street would not be straight, but would take right-angle turns in order to get around the properties of those owners who were resisting the easement. However, this will not be the case, as all property owners along Walnut’s northside have agreed to and signed the easement.

Mayor Al Gerdeman and Council President Jason Birkemeier met recently with Roger Rampe and his son Doug Rampe, local developers who intend to build on as many as three lots in an area along N. Broad St. The elder Mr. Rampe gained the attention of his neighbors when, without notice or permission, he installed a riser on a village-owned catch basin located on the property in 2017. Its presence was a point of contention for the approximately two years since, with the village insisting it must be removed, among other requirements, before any further development of the properties could take place.

As of early last week, the riser has been removed.

Roger and Doug Rampe have also completed and submitted a Flood Hazard Area Development Application for the site. The village’s solicitor is currently reviewing the application. Additionally, the two developers also agreed to the cost of lateral taps into water and sewer infrastructure during the Walnut St. expansion. These taps may not be utilized anytime soon, but with the street undergoing reconstruction, now would be an economically advantageous time to create the access points for any future development that may occur. The cost of including the lateral taps will be assessed to the parcels.

Formal engineering plans must still be submitted to the village before approval might be granted for the development to move forward. At this point, it is believed that the Rampe developers will seed the area with grass this current construction season, and continue at a later date.

Financing options for a new town hall were again discussed by members of council. Designed by Technicon, the building alone is estimated at $1.2 million. The village anticipates saving around half of that amount, and then borrowing the rest through a commercial loan. Once a target of around $600,000 is in the capital fund, the village intends to move forward.

In response to acts of minor vandalism at Four Seasons Park, council received a verbal estimate for the placement of four external security cameras for approximately $2,000 each by Lima Security. The rough quote does not include the cost of labor, and it does not take into account how the cameras might be connected for power and live monitoring.

Lima Security is also pursuing solutions for automated locks for the public restrooms in the parks. More details are expected in the coming weeks on both the locks and cameras.

The next meeting of the Kalida Village Council will take place on Monday, June 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the town hall.